While I was visiting family recently I decided, along with my sister, to try a bit of a taste experiment. Most recipe books give the standard sponge cake recipe of 2 eggs plus 4 oz each of butter, sugar and SR flour. However, there is an alternative recipe that my mum always uses which calls for 2 eggs plus 4 oz butter, 5 oz sugar and 6 oz SR flour (I'll leave you to work out the metric equivalents if you really want to - I'm afraid I'm an imperial girl at heart). This recipe comes from a little book that came with my mum's Kenwood Mixer of all places (which dates back to 197something) although I'm sure it has been published elsewhere since then. Anyway, as we had plenty of willing testers we thought we make a batch of each and compare the results. Both batches were mixed up with about 1/2 tsp of vanilla and a splash of milk and then baked in muffin cases at 180C for 12-15 minutes.
On taking them out of the oven there was an obvious difference between the two batches - the 4,5,6 batch looked more well-risen than the 4,4,4's, which looked a little flat.
Flavour-wise they were pretty similar. (Actually, to be honest, the 4,4,4 batch had a bit more flavour but I think that may have been down to me being a little too heavy-handed with the vanilla). When it came to texture however, the 4,5,6 batch was definitely better as they were much lighter and fluffier. As a result, we proclaimed the 4,5,6 batch to be the winner.
While we were in cake making mode we tried our hands at a bit of fancy icing. Upmarket cupcakes seem to be all the rage at the moment with cake stalls at farmers markets and websites popping up all over the places. I've often thought "How hard can it be?" and that I must give it a go myself (hence the recent purchase of a new piping bag!). As it turns out, the answer to the above question is "Quite Hard!". The pictures I've posted don't actually look too bad but the icing was quite hard to work with. Further research has suggested that I need to use a greater proportion of icing sugar - I will experiment on and report back (it's tough job but someone's got to do it!).